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  • Writer's pictureEd Gaines

The First Black Woman In Secret Service, Zandra Flemister, Dies At Age 71

Zandra Flemister, the first Black woman to serve as a special agent in the U.S. Secret Service, died last week at age 71. She started her work at the Secret Service in 1974. During her time at the Secret Service, Flemister guarded the families of US presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

She is being remembered as a pioneer at the agency, which she left after four years because of racial discrimination.

"The level of accomplishments that my wife managed ... under the conditions that she lived, that to me says a hell of a lot about the woman," Flemister's husband, John Collinge, told NPR in a phone interview.

Flemister, was “a trailblazer” and “inspired a future generation of agents”, the Secret Service’s director, Kimberly Cheatle, said in a statement about her death.

Flemister stayed with the agency because she wanted to be a "trailblazer for other African-American women," as she wrote in an affidavit filed in support of a 2000 class-action lawsuit alleging racial discrimination within the Secret Service (which settled for $24 million in 2017).

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